It Makes the World Go Round

6 Feb

Recently there has been a spate of computer hacking at large retail stores, most notably,  Neiman-Marcus, Target and Michael’s, where customer credit card information has been stolen from each companies computer systems. This information has been sold to other criminals who in turn use the info to create bogus credit cards which are then used to purchase items on-line in the names of the stolen identities.

If you have ever had your identity stolen or have had fraudulent charges made to your credit card account then you know how upsetting and frustrating this can be…and you also probably know how little surprised and unfazed the credit card companies are by all of this thievery when you contact them.

There are two relatively easy fixes for this problem: One involves these large companies strengthening their computer systems security measures to make it more difficult for the hackers to place malware and other viruses into those systems which then allows the hackers to retrieve valuable data used to steal credit card and customer info. That of course would cost the retailers money.

The second fix involves creating a new type of credit card, one with a technologically superior computerized chip and stripe that requires your also using a 4 digit pass code when making purchases. This would replace the current stripe that is on the back of your card now and which represents a credit card technology that is already 40 years old.

So why not create a newer and safer credit card for all to use?

Because even though the new card would only cost credit card companies about $3 each to replace there are about 5 billion credit cards in circulation in the U.S. alone. And since credit card fraud amounts to about 5.5 billion dollars in fraudulent purchases it’s more cost effective for the CC companies to…you guessed it…do nothing.

So, until the thieves do more thieving it’s up to us to be more vigilant about how we use our cards. One thing to do is to select credit rather than debit when swiping your bank card at stores. And purchasing on-line is safer than in person (go figure) and of course cash…remember that?…is the best way to avoid identity fraud.

Of course then you might have to wait a bit at checkout while the cashiers do the math and count out your change, but having us all do a little bit more math is probably a good thing since nothing is going to get cheaper and thieves are way ahead of all of us when it comes to doing the math.

I’d also mention the old adage, “If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it”… but I can hear you laughing already…

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3 Responses to “It Makes the World Go Round”

  1. Anne February 6, 2014 at 1:27 am #

    Good post. Having had fraudulent purchases on my car in the past and , more recently, being one of those who shopped at a Target store in the US during the period of the hacking, this is a subject I pay close attention to.

    What I don’t understand, though, is why retailers and banks in Canada and the UK have been using the chip and pin system for a long time, but the US has not. Surely the costs and risks are the same in all those places.

  2. Barbara Backer-Gray February 6, 2014 at 4:16 am #

    What infuriates me is all the fees you have to pay the credit card companies and the banks, and that in return they can’t even guarantee that your money is safe with them.

    • gpicone February 6, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

      Sadly, I do believe those fees along with other hidden charges to both the retailer and the buyer pay for the losses from theft… so basically we are already paying for what is being stolen from us before it gets stolen. End result? For some, Crime does indeed pay!

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